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Gas tax referendum rejected for drafting error but group has refiled 

A referendum petition meant to put the proposed motor fuel tax increase to a vote of the people was rejected Friday due to a technical error — but the group responsible for it has already refiled. 

The petition, filed by Americans For Prosperity-Missouri (AFP-MO) last week, sought to place the issue on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot — more than a year after the bill’s start date. The Secretary of State’s Office declined the petition, citing drafting errors in its decision. 

AFP-MO Director Jeremy Cady said the error did not deter the group. 

“We reviewed the reasoning for the rejection, corrected the issue, [and] immediately refiled the referendum,” Cady said. “We look forward to giving Missourians the opportunity to weigh in on this $500 million tax increase.”

The petition was quickly refiled; the Secretary of State’s Office noted the proposal is once again open for public comment.

A letter from Attorney General Eric Schmitt acknowledged his office’s approval of the new form, but said the final decision rested with the Secretary of State’s Office.

From Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, the legislation would increase Missouri’s fuel tax by 2.5 cents annually beginning in October — bumping it up to 29.5 cents from 17 cents by 2025. The funds would go toward maintaining the state’s roads and bridges, a major focus for both Schatz and Gov. Mike Parson. The bill included a rebate program, allowing taxpayers to apply with DOR once a year to receive a refund for the tax. The Senate bill was approved by the General Assembly during the final week of session and awaits action by the governor. 

By the time it’s fully implemented, the tax increase would generate more than $513 million before refunds, according to an estimate from the Department of Revenue (DOR). 

This isn’t the first opposition the proposal has faced: Both chambers of the legislature held extensive debate before passing the measure, with House members attempting to attach their own referendum amendment on the floor. 

Similar tax increases were proposed on the ballot in 2014 and 2018, but neither passed.

This story has been updated.